cover image The Husbands

The Husbands

Chandler Baker. Flatiron, $26.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-250-31951-7

House-hunting Austin, Tex., attorney Nora Spangler, the protagonist of bestseller Baker’s disappointing sophomore effort (after 2019’s Whisper Network), thinks Dynasty Ranch looks like a dream come true, an “enclave community” of enviably accomplished professional women—and husbands who, unlike her own spouse, Hayden, seem to pride themselves on sharing domestic duties. But all may not be quite as idyllic as it appears. After Nora meets Dynasty Ranch resident Penny March, a renowned advice columnist, Penny retains Nora to explore a wrongful death suit on behalf of her husband, who was burned alive in the blaze that incinerated their home. Though wary of a potential conflict of interest since she and Hayden are weighing an offer in the community, Nora starts investigating—and grows increasingly suspicious about the fire. She also gradually becomes more and more uneasy about all the Stepford-like hubbies. While Baker puts everywoman Nora in frightening peril, she paints such a convincing picture of her stretched-to-the-breaking-point existence that the novel proves something of a downer, a situation its unbelievable final bombshell does nothing to improve. Hopefully, she’ll return to form next time. [em]Agent: Daniel Lazar, Writers House. (Aug.) [/em]